A senior official in the leadership of the Alliance For Change (AFC) Wednesday night poured cold water on Prime Minister Nagamootoo’s instruction to the Guyana Chronicle’s Board of Directors to withdraw its decision to sack Sherod Duncan from the post of General Manager over alleged financial mismanagement.
The official told Demerara Waves Online News on condition of anonymity that Duncan’s actions did not warrant dismissal because he did not steal or defraud the Guyana National Newspapers Limited, publishers of the Chronicle newspapers, of any monies.
“I thought that a reprimand or suspension should have sufficed, but not dismissal,” the long-serving AFC executive member said.
The official, who first learnt of the decision while in Cabinet on Tuesday, seemed concerned that the Prime Minister did not engage the seven-member Board “much earlier and asked for the decision to be justified” instead of instructing the board two months later to pull back the termination of Duncan’s employment.
“Sending a “command” now will naturally raise eyebrows and questions,” the high-level AFC official said, adding that “had I been briefed before, would have advised against this.”
Three board members—Geeta Chandan-Edmond, Hilbert Foster and Mervyn Williams—have since resigned in protest and refuted the Prime Minister’s claim that no vote had been taken on Duncan’s fate but instead asking board members’ views. Chandan-Edmond has said the board’s minutes prove that the Prime Minister’s virtual hearsay account is not factual.
Duncan, who is the AFC’s Region 4 Chairman, is regarded as somewhat of a power-player in the run-up to his party’s National Conference which would decide the fate of Nagamootoo as prime minister should the coalition win the next general elections.
Nagamootoo and AFC Chairman, Khemraj Ramjattan have been jostling each other for the prime ministerial candidacy.
AFC Leader Raphael Trotman has already publicly reasoned that to replace Nagamootoo would be to vindicate the opposition People’s Progressive Party that the David Granger-Nagamootoo ticket has failed Guyana since the coalition came to power in 2015.
Nagamootoo has already sent a clear signal at a government outreach on the Essequibo Coast that he is vying for the number two spot in the government again when he remarked that he and the President have discussed the possibility of providing free university education “in our second term in office”.
Critics of Ramjattan inside and outside the party do not believe he deserves to be Prime Minister because he has not managed the security sector effectively. In recent weeks, the Public Security Minister has been defending his record especially in light of concerns about increased robberies.
Opposition Leader Bharrat Jagdeo often taunts Nagamootoo, saying he is virtually a rubber stamp without any real responsibilities and he has not even delivered on the coalition’s promise to further reform Guyana’s constitution.